ECC-D4 Electostatic Oil Cleaner Design for Heavy-Duty Gas Turbine Applications

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Mekanisk värmeteori och strömningslära


The turbine technology improvements from 1980 onwards have considerably increased mechanical and thermal stresses on turbine oils which, cause oil oxidation and thereby turbine oil degradation (Livingstone et al., 2007; Sasaki & Uchiyama, 2002). If the oil degradation problem is ignored, this might result in serious turbine system erratic trips and start-up operational problems (Overgaag et al., 2009). Oil oxidation by-products, in other words, sludge and varnish contaminants, lead stated turbine operation-tribological problems. Hence, sludge and varnish presence in turbine oil become a major reason for declining turbine reliability and availability.

In the power generation industry, heavy-duty gas turbines as well as steam turbines have been lubricated with mineral based turbine oils for many decades (Okazaki & Badal, 2005). First, generally Group I oils (mineral base oils produced by solvent extraction, dewaxing) were used. Nevertheless, this group of oils has lower oxidation resistance. Therefore, modern gas turbines demand oils which have better oil oxidation resistance, and lower sludge and varnish contaminants tendency (Hannon, 2009).

Today, there are many turbine lubricants available on the market. Besides Group I oils, more and more Group II oils (mineral base oils produced by hydro cracking and hydro treating) are selected in service, and having increased oil oxidation resistance. However field inspections demonstrate that Group II oils also experience sludge and varnish problems as well as Group I oils. Primary reason for these phenomena is the antioxidant additive packages that are used in Group II oils (Overgaag et al., 2009). In any case with recent oil formulations, oil degradation products still exist in current turbine oils, and will continue to do so in natural process. These sludge and varnish contaminants are less than 1 micron in size. Thus, they can pass turbine oil system standard mechanical filters without obstruction. With regard to keep the turbine systems in best operational conditions, external turbine oil cleaning practices became crucial to remove these less than 1 micron size oil degradation products from turbine oils. Current effective method for removing the sludge and varnish is to use electrostatic oil cleaners (Moehle & Gatto et al., 2007).

Since the majority of turbine user and operator population have been shifted to use Group II based oils to counter the increased sludge and varnish problems, traditional oil cleaners became insufficient to remove sludge and varnish from Group II. (Due to Group II oils have different oil characteristics such as oil oxidation stability and solvency capability). With this awareness, thesis project is looking for ways to introduce and develop an Advanced Electrostatic Oil Cleaner to increase the availability and reliability figures of heavy-duty gas turbines against the rising amount of oil degradation products in modern formulated turbine oils.

ECC (Electrostatic Cooled Cleaner) is an electrostatic oil cleaner device to clean and cool mineral based turbine oils for heavy-duty gas turbine applications by removing the sludge and varnish - oil contaminants from turbine oils. The basic principle of the ECC is based on the electrostatic force produced by parallel positioned electrodes which are charged with a high D.C. voltage. Oil contaminants- sludge and varnish have polar nature. Therefore, they are attracted by electrostatic forces whose intensity is proportional to the voltage applied. With the oil flowing in parallel to these electrodes, the polar particles in the oil (which is only neutral /no polar) are caught by filter media positioned between these electrodes.

Small investments on advanced oil cleaner result in big savings on turbine system performance. Increased turbine availability and reliability predominantly reduce maintenance costs and risks besides, and thus maximizing revenue by extending heavy-duty gas turbine operational life.

An introduced prototype of the ECC-D4 model was tested using two Group II and one Group I oils. The amounts of 200 liter (each) test oils were circulated approximately 300 times through the ECC-D4. In each 3 oil cleaning test sessions, it is proved that the oil insolubles content decreased approximately 40% in tested turbine oils within about 240 ECC-D4 operating hours.

With taken base of heavy-duty gas turbine characteristics such as 400 MW power production capacity, annually 8000 operating hours, and 15000 liter oil reservoir volume; it is estimated that the ECC-D4 can extend the oil service-life from 24000 to 48000 operating hours (which is approximately the oil service end-life). In addition to that, assuming the ECC-D4 investment cost as 30k€, about 15k€ savings per year through the new turbine oil and component replacement costs, besides turbine operation profit losses. Moreover, the ECC-D4 returns on investment with a rate of 39 % for defined heavy-duty gas turbine.

In general perspective of ECC-D4, it makes heavy-duty gas turbine infrastructure innovative, fully integrated and committed to fulfilling the need for clean, efficient, reliable power production practices in an environmental manner.


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